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BMW Z4: Buying guide and review (2003-2008)

BMW Z4: Buying guide and review (2003-2008) Classic and Performance Car
BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe
Launched in 2003, the BMW Z4 roadster was the long-awaited replacement for the extremely successful Z3 - BMW’s first foray into the mass-market two-seater sportscar segment. Controversial Chris Bangle-era styling, electromechanical power-steering and the adoption of run flat tyres met with some criticism at launch, but the well balanced handling and great range of engines ensured that the Z4 carried on its predecessors success story.

With its focus on handling and driving dynamics, the Z4 earned itself a reputation as a great drivers’ car, the M versions in particular are already becoming modern collectors cars. 
Which one to buy?
There are a large number of engine variations to choose from, however the basic running costs for the non-M six-cylinder models are quite similar, making the larger capacity variants – which provide a decent hike in power over the 2.2-litre cars – highly desirable. The 3.0-litre model in particular is a great compromise between the full-fat M variants and the lower models in the range, and was also the only non-M car that was made available in Coupe form. 

The Coupe, introduced in 2006, is a significantly rarer car than the soft-top. Thanks to the much more rigid body structure handling is even better, while there’s a slightly more usable luggage space in the back too. Ride quality on standard suspension is very firm, meaning that cars with sports suspension and big wheels can be surprisingly uncomfortable on anything other than smooth road surfaces. 

The base 2-litre four-cylinder cars are eager, and not much slower than the 2.2-litre models. They also use much less fuel and cost less to maintain, so if outright speed is not a priority then these models are a great compromise. 

At the other end of the scale, the M powered Z4 is a different proposition altogether. Using the 343bhp engine from the heavier E46 M3, and with a full M-spec suspension system, the Z4 M coupe and roadster models took the fight straight to Porsche and Mercedes. The award-winning engine is one of the all-time great naturally aspirated units, providing a raw edged driving experience that will leave you breathless. Running costs are relatively reasonable for a car of this type, although certain M specific components can be pricey - especially if sourced from BMW.

Gearbox options were five-speed manuals and automatics on the early cars, with the facelift introducing six-speed variants. The Sequential Manual Gearbox was made available on a limited number of the 3.0-litre cars and while fun when pressing on, they can be jerky in town driving.

There’s a huge choice whitch means that you can afford to be picky, and it’s absolutely worth driving a few different models. The driving experience between a base spec four-pot Z4 and a sporty three-litre model is surprisingly different.
Performance and specs
Engine 2996cc 24valve DOHC I6 
Power 261bhp @ 6600 rpm 
Torque 232lb ft @ 2750rpm
Top speed 155mph (limited)
0-62mph 5.7 seconds 
Fuel consumption 32.8mpg 
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Insurance group 44
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2495mm
Length 4090mm
Width 1780mm
Height 1300mm
Weight 1385kg
Common problems

• Parts are readily available and many maintenance items can be sourced from specialists.

• Suspension systems are generally reliable, however the springs are prone to snapping especially at the rear. Front control arm bushes tend to wear out and can be noticed by loose-feeling steering and creaking noises. Strut braces on the rear can break at the weld seams and will require expensive repairs. 

• Electrical systems are reliable, however some owners have complained of erratic wipers requiring motor replacements, which can be costly. Test all the buttons and switches inside the vehicle in case anything is amiss. 

• The interior is well built and there are no specific issues however the seats do rub against the body when pushed right back and can cause irritating squeaks when driving. 

• Engines are long lasting and should be smooth and free revving, especially the six-cylinder models. Power steering pumps can fail on early cars and the cooling system needs to be serviced regularly. The water pump can fail if the correct coolant mixture is not adhered to. 

• On M cars, check that the 1200-mile run in service was done, as failure to do so has been known to result in excessive engine wear. Crankcase ventilation oil separators can clog up and cause damage to the engine, but replacement parts are not unduly pricey.

• On convertible cars check the roof mechanism for any signs of slow operation or creasing in the roof lining. There should be no water ingress so any leaks may indicate an issue with the alignment of the roof or the side window fitment.
Model History 

2003: BMW Z4 launched in 170bhp 2.2, 190bhp 2.5 and 228bhp 3.0 litre versions. Five-speed manual and automatic transmission choices available, with SMG gearbox option available on 2.5 and 3.0 litre cars
2005: 215bhp 2.5si and 261bhp 3.0si engines replace older units resulting in lower emissions and higher power outputs. Navigation and heated seats introduced as optional extras, and SMG gearbox now only available on 3.0-litre cars. 2.2i six-cylinder entry level option replaced with 150bhp 2.0l four-cylinder engine.
2006: Mid-life facelift with new colours, wheel choices and minor changes to lighting. Six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes now available. Z4 Coupe introduced with 3.0-litre 261bhp engine,as wells as M Coupe with 343bhp M division engine.
2008: Final E85/86 Z4 rolls off the line
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.bmwcarclubgb.uk
• z4-forum.com
Summary and prices

Prices start at £3000-£4000 for the earliest cars, and as long as they have solid service and maintenance histories they can carry on forever, so don’t be put off by higher mileages. £6000-£8000 will get you one of the later cars. M Coupes and M Roadsters range between £12,000-£25,000 with condition and mileage being the biggest influencing factors on these cars.
The first Z4 has proven to be a great second-hand buy with reasonable running costs and styling that has improved with age. There are a lot of cars out there with a spec level and price to suit most people. It’s also a great way of experiencing the last of the old school BMWs, built before the motoring industry’s move to turbocharging and flappy paddles, so buy one now and enjoy it while you still can.
Words: John Tallodi
BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe
Last updated: 4th Dec 2015
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BMW Z4 cars for sale

84 Search results
2795 27000 GBP
  • BMW Z4 3.0 si SE Roadster 2dr Auto

    £11,495 £11,495

    Type: Used Year: 2008 Make: BMW Model: Z4 Trim: 3.0 si SE Roadster 2dr Auto Body: Convertible Trans: Automatic Mileage: 58944 Engine Size: 3000 Ext Color: Grey

    • Mileage: 58944 mi
    • Engine size: 3000
    For sale
    G & M Motors
    01474444701 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • BMW Z Series 2005

    £5,250 £5,250

    Very well looked after, VERY LOW MILEAGE (55K) 2005 (55 reg) BMW Z4 2.0. 6+ Months MOT. Full service history. 13k until next service (oil service). Car is great to drive. Alloy Wheels in great condition. Black Interior Leather Sport Bucket Seats help make this car feel even more fun to drive! Electronic Roof works perfectly. Shiny metallic black bodywork helps this car stand out on the road, (especially in the sun)! 3 owners, Full service history. Rear parking sensor needs replacing and new brake pads, happy to get both replaced for full asking price. This car comes with Electric convertible roof, Electric windows, Air conditioning, CD player, Leather trim, Height adjustable driver's seat, Height adjustable penger seat, Leather Sport Bucket seats, Metallic paint, Power steering, Steering wheel rake adjustment, Steering wheel reach adjustment, Traction control, Central locking, Alarm, Driver's airbags, Penger airbags.

    • Mileage: 55000 mi
    • Engine size: 1995
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £27,000 £27,000

    Full Screen Professional Sat Nav, 19'' Alloy Wheels, Full Red Leather Interior, Heated Seats, CD Player, Bluetooth, Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Trip Computer, 6 Speed, Bi Xenon Headlights, Front And Rear PDC Very Low Mileage With A Full Service History. Over £5500 Of Optional Extras. Very High Specification Which Includes, Full Screen Professional Sat Nav, 19'' Alloy Wheels, Full Coral Red Kansas Leather Interior, Heated Seats, Radio CD, Media Input, USB Audio Interface, Bluetooth, Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Arm Rest, Trip Computer, Bi Xenon Headlights, Auto Lights And Wipers, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Remote Central Locking, Power Steering, Alarm, Immobiliser, Isofix. 2 seats, Alpine White, We Are A Family Run Business Specialising In Sports, Prestige And Performance Cars. Ideally Located On The Border Of Hampshire, Surrey And West Sussex. Our Showroom Is Situated A Stones Throw From The A3 And The London Waterloo To Portsmouth Train Line. All Vehicles Are HPI Checked And Come With A Comprehensive 6 Month Warranty Which Can Be Extended. We Offer Hire Purchase And PCP Finance Packages At Very Competitive Rates. Pleased To Be Approved Under The Hampshire Trading Standards 'Buy With Confidence' Scheme, Open 9.00-5.30 Monday To Saturday, Sundays And Out Of Hours By Appointment.

    • Mileage: 15990 mi
    • Engine size: 2497
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £20,995 £20,995

    Variant name:Roadster Special Editions M Sport Highline Edition ,Derivative:M Sport Highline Edition ,Variant: 3.0i sDrive30i M Sport Highline BMW Z4 30i sDrive M Sport Highline Edition 2dr Auto

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 36801 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • BMW Z3 2.8 roadster

    £3,500 £3,500

    Carefully maintained by enthusiast owner, Wide Body, Recent New front calipers and pads, Electric Hood, wind Deflector, Tonneau Cover, Electric Seats, Original Toolkit, Spare Key 5+ owners, Next MOT due 27/04/2018, Full service history, Blue

    • Mileage: 100000 mi
    • Engine size: 2793
    For sale
  • BMW Z Series 2007 Convertible

    £4,900 £4,900

    - MOT until March 2018 - Part service history - Rear parking sensors - Heated seats   - 5 owners - 114,227 miles - Had full service in March   Contact & arrange to view. Only selling due to family, would keep otherwise. Mechanically sound with cream leather interior and metallic blue paint, this is the luxury version for the same price as models 3 years older than it. As you can see from the photos, the exterior is like new. The electric convertible roof is fully working, never been faulty, and goes down in just 8 seconds, which means you can do it at traffic lights on a hot day! A cly, affordable and more importantly fun sports car. Get in touch to view and test drive it - first to view will buy, or I'll eat my hat. I'll buy a hat, then eat it.  

    • Engine size: 2497
    For sale

    £13,490 £13,490

    OWN FOR GBP 199 A MONTH, FULL RED LEATHER INTERIOR, 19" ALLOYS, 1 OWNER, 2 KEYS, BLUETOOTH, XENON HEADLIGHTS, FRONT and REAR PARKING SENSORS, 4 SERVICES (3 BMW) Will come with 12 months MOT on purchase, Last serviced at 56,290 miles, Red Full leather interior, Black, OWN FOR GBP 199 X 60 MONTHS WITH ONLY GBP 4000 DEPOSIT - SUBJECT TO STATUS, PLEASE CALL FOR DETAILS, NO DEPOSIT OPTIONS ALSO AVAILABLE, FOR MORE PICTURES, PLEASE CHECK OUR WEBSITE: www.clementsqualitycars.co.uk, FAMILY RUN BUSINESS SINCE 1974, OTHER Z4 AVAILABLE PLEASE CHECK OUR WEBSITE, For more information call 07973 321469. Competitive finance and PCP rates available call for a quote, GBP 13,490;;This car comes with:;Bluetooth Telephone Preparation, Cruise Control with Brake Function, Alloy Wheels - 19in M Star Spoke Style 326M, Metallic Paintwork, Parking Distance Control Front and Rear, Air Conditioning, Automatic with Two - Zone Control, On - Board Computer (OBC), Electric Windows - Front and Rear, with Open/Close Fingertip Control, Anti - Trap Facility and Comfort Closing Function All Round, Start - Stop Button with Chrome Detail, Tyre Puncture Warning System (TPWS), Alarm System (Thatcham 1) with Remote Control, BMW Professional Radio with Single CD Player (with MP3 Playback Capability), Hill - Start Assistant, Upholstery - Kansas Leather, Air conditioning, Airbags, Alarm, Alloy wheels, CD Player, Central Door Locking - Remote Control, Cruise control, Drivers Airbag, Electric door mirrors, Electric windows, Electro - Mechanical Parking Brake, M Leather Gear Lever, M Sport Steering Wheel, Leather seats, Parking aid, Power steering, Radio, Remote central locking

    • Mileage: 58000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.497
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 Z4 SE ROADSTER 2005 Manual 76000 Petrol Black

    £4,995 £4,995

    MOT until June 2018 and partial service history. This car was bought direct from the local owner and mechanically inspected prior to buying so we know it's a good car. Will also have a service prior to sale for the asking price. Just had a new tyre and front pads replaced. Very tidy car especially for a black one. Equipped with; Climate control with Air Conditioning, Leather seats, On Board Computer, In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD), Alloy Wheels (16in), Alarm, Computer, Electric windows, Electric door mirrors, Airbags, Front Fog Lights, Remote central locking, Electric folding black roof, 6 speed gear box. 2 seats, Black, HPI Clear. Located in Didcot, Oxfordshire OX110BS, Open 7 days a week, All Major Debit/Credit Cards accepted (2% fee for credit cards), Competitive finance packages available, PX Welcome.

    • Mileage: 76000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.995
    For sale

    £17,950 £17,950

    Body: Convertible Transmission: Manual Mileage: 50,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2007 (07) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 3.2 Finished in: SILVER/GREY METALLIC WITH BLACK LEATHER 18" alloys

    • Year: 2007
    • Mileage: 50000 mi
    For sale
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